Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra ModiReuters

There could be more to the Al Qaeda video, which announced a new terror wing in the Indian subcontinent, than just an open threat of terrorism in India; it could be a direct attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, largely seen as a Hindutva leader.

Al-Qaeda wants to portray Modi as an "enemy of Islam", according to a US counter-terror expert, who has advised India to take its threat "very seriously".

"This video, the first from (al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-) Zawahiri this year, should be taken very seriously. Al-Qaeda wants to portray Prime Minister Modi as an enemy of Islam," ex-CIA analyst Bruce Riedel, who is considered to be one of US' top experts on counter-terrorism, told the Press Trust of India.

The video was released on Wednesday, in which Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri has declared a new wing to "raise jihad in the Indian subcontinent", stating that it would "rescue" Muslims in Burma, Bangladesh, Assam, Gujarat and Kashmir, from "injustice and oppression".

Zawahiri's reference to Gujarat, and especially Ahmedabad, is seen as a direct reference to the Gujarat riots of 2002 that occurred when Modi was the Chief Minsiter, in which almost 1000 Muslims were killed.

Ever since the incident, Modi has been viewed as a polarizing figure by many, and is often seen with skepticism within the minority community.

The Indian government has already issued a high alert across the country, especially in Gujarat following the terror threat, and it is preparing to crackdown on recruitment camps in sensitive regions.

The United States has also expressed deep concern over the video.

"From its base in Pakistan and with its close links to Lashkar-e-Taiba, al-Qaeda is a dangerous menace to India," Riedel said, adding that New Delhi should increase its counter-terrorism co-operation with the US and Afghanistan.

The United Sates department, however, underplayed any 'new capabilities' of Al Qaeda in issuing a new terror wing.

"We also don't regard this announcement as an indication of any new capabilities by al-Qaida," US State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said at a press conference.

"We have seen the reports of al-Qaeda's new branch on the Indian subcontinent. The US remains committed to dismantling al-Qaeda and ensuring that it never again poses a threat to the American people," Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson of the National Security Council at the White House, said.

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